(This is the first of a 3-part blog post. The comments represent my own experience reinforced by nearly 30 years in various hiring manager positions where I have reviewed over one thousand cover letters and résumés, conducted hundreds of job interviews, and hired and managed countless technical/scientific, marketing, and communications professionals. Comments also reflect my experiences with hundreds of career strategy clients showing them how to shape a career strategy from the hiring manager’s perspective.)
In my May 2013 post on “Coaching” I related a story about participating in a panel discussion at a national conference with an HR representative, an executive coach, two professional recruiters, and a certified life coach. We were asked to answer a variety of questions about the job market, résumés, cover letters, interviews, job and career strategies, and so on. But that experience revealed that not all career professionals are created equal. Refer to that post for the details.
Recruiters and Headhunters
Some companies use recruiters to screen résumés from applicants while others may use HR personnel (or internal recruiting subcontractors) for the task. Throughout most of my experience, hiring managers provide HR or a recruiter with the necessary requirements and prerequisites for the available position based on the overall team need. When working with HR, they establish a competitive compensation package to start with. HR or the recruiter forwards to the hiring manager’s attention only those résumés that meet the job criteria. This approach streamlines the process for everyone involved and is an efficient way to determine which candidates deserve additional evaluation.
I have worked with internal and external recruiters in the past—some great; some not so great. The very good ones listen to what I need in a candidate and forward ONLY those résumés that meet that criteria. They also help candidates put a polish on certain elements of a résumé to better address job prerequisites. The not-so-good recruiters often forward résumés to me that reflect their own assessment of the candidate’s expertise, regardless of my stated requirements. But here’s the thing: a recruiter can forward to me a résumé that meets every single item on my “needs” list, but I, as the hiring manager, still have the final word on who gets called in for an interview. I need to get an in-person “feel” for a candidate not only through structured interview techniques, but also to gauge that candidate’s “likeability factor.”
Given that, Ladders.com reports that the average recruiter (not the hiring manager) spends six seconds scanning a résumé, looking at the candidate’s name, current and past titles, start and end dates of positions, employers and education. Hiring managers when first scrutinizing résumés spend about 10 seconds on the upper 2/3 of Page One. When recruiters are involved in the hiring process, résumés of people who meet the specific criteria as set by the hiring manager are forwarded on to the hiring manager for further evaluation.
While the use of recruiters can expedite that aspect of the hiring process, the organization must respond with expedited offers to qualified candidates to realize efficiencies and effectiveness. I’ve had many great candidates who were first vetted by recruiters become lost to competitors because the organization was slow to respond with a job offer, and any perceived cost savings associated with recruiters in the hiring process went out the window.
Using recruiters works for some and some folks steer clear of recruiters for many reasons. Just be sure you understand how the process works, and remember that the person who knows your career expertise best is you.
Next post: Résumé Writers